City Hall, LTV CEO Heat Up Steel Battle

CLEVELAND – LTV Corp. CEO William Bricker said on Wednesday that there are no plans to shut down the company's integrated steel operations. Rather, the plan is just to idle its mills until a bankruptcy court judge makes a ruling on its request to permanently close the facilities.

That announcement started a day of challenges, threats, letters, legal maneuvers, accusations and counter-charges, 19/43 News' Rick Jackson reported.

LTV corporate claimed that production would be slowed at Cleveland's east-side mill because there is no demand for steel right now.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich filed a motion to keep LTV from closing, and Cleveland Mayor Michael White planned to do the same on behalf of the people of Cleveland.

"LTV Steel, every steelworker in that plant and every employee in the city of Cleveland and in northeastern Ohio deserve a chance to make a final stand," White said.

In what he termed as an extraordinary step, White aired dirty laundry, detailing how the fight to keep LTV might have been scuttled by the very men employed to save it.

"We have to do what we have to do on behalf of the workers and on behalf of the people of the city of Cleveland," Cleveland City Council president Michael Polensic said.

The news conference came on the heels of pleas to a bankruptcy judge to try to stave off a rumored immanent shutdown -- a death knell for steel making and steel jobs.

"It's very destructive to everything we're trying to do," Kucinich staff attorney Marty Gelfan said. "It's destructive to everything the union and the creditors are trying to do to save the company."

White said that Bricker lied to him about fighting to save LTV, even while attorneys were notifying steelworkers that the end could be near.

A letter to Bricker said that the plan "eroded what little confidence we had." White also threatened that the city "will take any and all steps to prevent destruction of steel-making facilities."

White called Bricker "the Art Modell of steel-making," and he told Bricker not to expect police help if it gets ugly.

"We are not going to do your dirty work," White said in the letter. "If you create an environment in which steelworkers feel that they have no alternative but to stay in those plants, we are not going in."

Bricker faxed back, denying accusations, blaming market conditions and promising that the plant will be idled, and then auctioned off if possible.